Riverlinking criticised

Published: Sunday 15 June 2003

Weak link: protesters demonstr The Spanish counterpart of India's river linking project -- which involves transfer of water from Ebro river in the north to river basins in Catalonia, Valencia, Murcia and Almeria in the south -- is drawing widespread flak. The European Environmental Bureau, the World Wide Fund for Nature (wwf) and Spanish pressure group Ecologistas in Accion have warned that the scheme will have an adverse impact on socio-economic conditions and the environment.

They have cited a report on a similar project, the Tagus-Segura scheme to transfer water from central Spain to the southeast part of the country, to substantiate their argument. The report states that this plan has not been able to resolve the original water shortage problem, as the availability of water has only doubled demand in the recipient basin.

Water-intensive tourism schemes such as the establishment of golf courses have exacerbated the problem, observes the report. Black market consumption of water by diverting supply to tourist spots further adds to the woes, it points out.

The Spanish government has been seeking financial aid for the project from the European Commission, but a final decision is still pending.

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